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Car dream in limbo

Car dream in limbo

Nhean Phalet, who in 2003 made the first homemade car in Cambodia, says his vehicle

assembly career has been in limbo since he finished his second car in late 2004.

Phalet, 48, says his car-making ground to a halt because he got no attention from

the government, no money to make other cars, and no technological support to improve

the cars he had made by hand.

"I got famous all over the world, but it seems to have had no meaning in the

nation - no one paid attention," Phalet said. "So now I just pursue my

job as a carwash garage owner."

But Ith Praing, secretary of state at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy

(MIME), said Phalet should write a report to appropriate ministries such as MIME,

the Ministry of Commerce and the Cambodian Development Council about his car and

what he needs.

Phalet took four months in 2003 to make the first Angkor - at a cost of $900 - then

in 2004 spent 15 months and $3,100 to make the second.

In the first Angkor he used an old 100cc motorbike engine fitted at the rear of the

car. The tiny wheels came from the schoolgirl's moto of choice, the Chaly.

The Angkor II was more ambitious. The engine is a Suzuki 3-cylinder, 12-valve, 660cc,

transverse-mounted, front-wheel-driven through a 4-speed gearbox.

All four seats are fitted with massage vibration devices; the convertible roof folds

down at the push of a button; the car has air conditioning and a CD system; electric-assisted

devices include side mirrors (with flashing turn indicators), retracting aerial,

screen washers, and fuelcap cover.

Phalet has added television and a camera to see at the back.

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